Updated: May 13
If you’ve been seeing the news, you know that jobless claims continue to mount — over 33 million filed for unemployment since mid-March. The Fed's prediction that we’d be at 32% unemployment as a result of economic fallout from COVID-19 seems to soon be a reality.
What does that mean?
Continued layoffs, hiring freezes, offers being rescinded, and internships canceled.
Companies are still hiring, but gone are the days of applying to jobs aimlessly online hoping a recruiter gets back to you. Especially now. Everyone else will be doing this, but one way to stand out from the pack is to form relationships with people of interest at the companies you want to work for. According to LinkedIn, 70% of people who end up getting hired, have a connection at that company.
So how do you start leveraging those connections?
It’s all starts with your messaging…so here are some templates you can start using today.
Template 1: Initial Introduction that Acknowledges the Crisis, But Makes Your Intent Clear to People In Your Network
We love this template from LinkedIn’s in-house career expert, Blair Heitmann. It’s extremely important to be compassionate to the person on the receiving end, but also lay out clearly what you’re looking for out of a conversation so you can achieve the next steps faster.
Dear [recipient’s name],
First and foremost, I want to ask how you are doing? This is certainly an unprecedented time and I hope you are healthy and safe.
[Personalize here: "I noticed that you shared on LinkedIn some interesting projects that your company is working on" or "I've seen you had an exciting career working at x company and now at x company in x department"]
I am currently using this time to think about my next career move and reconnect with people in my network. If you happen to have a few minutes over the next few weeks, would you be willing to chat? I’d love to catch up and also hear about your experience working at [recipient’s company] in [recipient’s job title] role. I know it is a very busy and unusual time for many of us. I’m happy to connect whenever it is most convenient for you.
I look forward to hearing from you. Stay safe and keep in touch.
Template 2: Cold Outreach Template for People You Don't Know
What about when you don't know the person you're reaching out to? For these messages, you'll need to 'pitch yourself' a little bit more so they understand up-front how you can be a fit for their potential job opening/team/company. Here's an example that worked well for me when I tried to set up virtual coffee chats with hiring managers or influential employees at a company I wanted to work at:
Subject: [ personalize - e.g. "saw your video interview with Forbes on innovation"]
Hi [recipient’s name],
First and foremost, I want to ask how you are doing? I hope you are healthy and safe during this unusual time.
[Personalize here on why you're reaching out - e.g. "I watched your interview with the Forbes Editor on how large companies can maintain their competitive edge through entrepreneurial thinking at the individual level. This resonated with me since I'm attracted to agile organizations where individuals can contribute to the overall mission beyond their specific job role."] Here are some examples of where I've been able to do that in my career:
- [Highlight #1 - e.g. Led our new channel efforts to build out a new partner network at x company, delivering $1.5M in incremental revenue in 2019 across 8 online channels]
- [Highlight #2 - Spearheaded international sales at (x) company and (y) generating over $2M net new business in EMEA, with clients such as (z) company.
- [Highlight #3 - Created and executed hiring plan for (x) company's first marketing team in 2019 which increased Marketing Qualified Leads by 65% YoY and $750K in Q4 2019.]
I also attached my resume so you can get a better sense of my background.
I'm really interested in [recipient's company/industry] and I'd love the opportunity to learn about your experience and chat about some of the exciting projects that your team is working on. I also had a chance to review some of the strategic priorities for the company and would love to share some ideas I've drafted on how I think you can achieve these goals.
Would you have 15-20 minutes to connect for a virtual coffee chat over the next couple of weeks?
I know it is an unusual time for many of us so I'm happy to connect whenever it is most convenient for you.
Pro Tip: When you think about what highlights to list out, make sure they align with the specific role/team that you're interested in to create a highly tailored message to the recipient. Take a look at the job description (if posted) and look back at your prior experience to see where there are some similarities.
Template 2: The Empathetic Follow-Up if You’re in the Interview Process and Waiting to Hear Back
Even though a lot of companies’ operations have been upended by the crisis, it’s also important to stay top of mind and reaffirm your interest in the role/company, but (again) have compassion in your outreach to show you’re aware of the situation.
Subject: Following Up on [topic you’re following up on]
Hi [recipient’s name],
I hope you’re doing well (all things considered).
I wanted to follow-up on my [application/candidacy/interview] and potential next steps in the process. I understand if there are delays given what’s going on and hope you take the time you need and continue to stay safe.
I want to let you know I’m still very excited about the opportunity and if there’s anything else I could provide to you at this time, please let me know.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Template 3: When someone refers you to someone else they think you should talk to
In this example, someone you know might say something like, “You should reach out to Michelle, she’s a Sr. Manager of Product at Amazon. I remember her from my old company and I think she could be a good person to speak with.” They may not know this person well enough or maybe they’re not comfortable making the connection directly, but…they still are letting you “name-drop” them in your outreach.
Subject: Referred by [your contact]
Hi [recipient’s name],
Hope you are safe and healthy during this unusual time.
[Your contact’s name], a [former colleague/classmate/friend] of mine at [place you know this person], recommended that I contact you.
I’m currently exploring potential careers in the [industry you’re interested in] industry and am interested in learning more about your company, [company name]. I have a strong background in [previous experience, key skills, or projects] and am looking for opportunities to leverage my experience & skills in the [industry you’re interested in] industry.
I wanted to see if you’re open to a brief chat so I can learn more about your company and solicit your valuable advice on how to build a career in the [industry you’re interested in] industry.
Do you have some time to chat in the coming weeks? I have also attached my resume, so that you may have a better idea of my background.
I look forward to speaking with you soon.
Template 4: Warm Introduction from Someone You Know
The concept of this approach is to leverage one of your connections to set-up an introduction to someone at a company you’re interested in working for. For example, if you want to work at Amazon, you might see on LinkedIn that one of your friends or past colleagues is connected to a recruiter or hiring manager there. Once you see that, you’ll want to create a ‘forwardable email’ — an approach we like from a former Managing Director from Techstars, Alex Iskold. See below for how this can be formatted to your job search:
Subject: Request for Introduction to [name of the person you want to be introduced to]
Hi [your connection],
I’m exploring new opportunities in [industry you’re interested in]and I was hoping you would be willing to introduce me to [person you want to be introduced to] at [company you want to work for].
[Insert why you're interested in the company here]
I’ve taken the liberty of drafting a description of me and what I’m looking for below to facilitate the process. If you knew them well enough and were comfortable in doing so, could you please forward my message below to your contact and let me know if they’re interested in speaking?
I really appreciate your support. Please let me know if I can be of help to you in any way.
— — — —
Hi [name of the person you want to be introduced to],
I am exploring a move into the [industry you’re interested in] industry and am a big fan of [company they work at], both from a business and consumer perspective and have been impressed by how the company has developed. [Personalize again by mentioning something specific that interests you about the company or this person]. I am interested in learning more about the company and your experience.
A little about my background:
[highlight your most recent experience — examples: I was a brand manager at Johnson & Johnson for 5+ years’ with experience in packaged goods, including a successful new product launch/I spent two internships running marketing campaigns for highly successful start-ups that grew their revenues by 30% or more during that time]
[highlight other relevant experience or projects — examples: Prior to business school, I worked for 3 years in management consulting on a variety of projects including developing international growth strategies, customer strategy, and marketing, and business performance optimization/Outside of my internships, I recently completed coursework and special projects for content creation, growth marketing, product design and my team for my marketing class was recently a finalist in EY’s Young Professionals Pitch Competition]
I’ve attached a copy of my resume, which has more detail on my background.
Would you be open to connecting for a virtual coffee chat in the coming days?
By following this style of forwardable email, you minimize the work involved for the connector (since they won’t have to copy/paste or fix the email) and make the introduction process efficient. Once you send this to your contact, all they need to do is forward this to the person you want to speak with, add a few lines of their own, and if that person is interested in speaking with you, all they need to do is cc you on their reply to set up a meeting.
One last note on any of these templates. There's a generic version of sending these out without any personalization, but the more you can personalize and mention something specific about what's interesting about the recipient and the company, the higher your response rate will be. This information is fairly easy to find too - look at the person's LinkedIn profile to see if they published/posted anything recently, go to the company's website and check out "recent news" or the "blog" section, and the obvious one is the "about us" section that's packed with information about the company (employees, their values, business model, etc.).
Good luck out there and let us know how these templates work at firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, if you’re looking for a faster way to connect directly with insiders at companies like Amazon, Google, LinkedIn, and others, feel free to take a look at www.nexplay.io for more information on how we can help with your job search. We’ve helped a lot of people with non-traditional backgrounds break into these companies and land high-paying coveted jobs there.